100 Artists See Satan

Editor: Sue Henger

Curator’s Foreword: Mike McGee

Publisher: Grand Central Press

Date Published: 2004

Pages: 128 pages, 115 Full color images

Size: 8 x 11

The ‘100 Artists See Satan’ exhibition was organised by the Cal State Fullerton Grand Central Art Center as an irrevernt, edgy response to the ‘100 Artists See God’ exhibition on view at the Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach. Afterwards, the book was compiled and sold to showcase the unusual and varied exhibition (though there are actually 115 artists included in the book).

‘100’ showcases a dizzying array of art mediums; from photograhy, digital prints, stills from videos, polariods, silent videos, collages, mimeographs, etchings, digital manipulations and costumes. Traditional mediums (oil on canvas, sculpture, pastel, charcoal, pencil, pen and acrylic) are also presented in a modern context. Even without the entertaining Satan theme, ‘100’ could be sold as a enterage of contemporary art.

Its hard to draw a theological or moralistic conclusion about ‘100’. Because of the large range of artists and cultures there isn’t a singular, cohesive opinion on what constitutes evil, whether evil is actually a ‘bad’ thing or it even exists as an entity. This is the strength of ‘100’; as each artist is communicating a different message, some serious while others are not, and its really the reader’s prerogative to determine the nature of their message. Although there is an overall feeling of homage to Satan and his influences on humanity, this could not really be viewed as a pro-Satan or anti-Satan body of work, and thus won’t be likely to alienate audiences.

However, this focus on theme is actually part of ‘100’s’ overall weakness. There is a great deal of art that presents a message rather than visual artistic substance, such as Jeffrey Vallance’s ‘The Devil Hates Art’. Others don’t seem to have even a vague notion of the theme such as ‘Devils Hide In Corners’ by Roland Reiss (which, despite its allusions to Satan in the title, is actually a just a photograph of metal). The quality of art varies extremely, which left me adoring half the art and feeling quite unimpressed with the other half.

The opening pages are sprayed with a fantastic splatter of blood and features famous quotes concerning Satan; to my delight the immortal words of Lucifer in Paradise Lost are included:‘Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven‘. This beginning section also lists the aliases of Satan. The foreword by Mike McGee talks more of the cultural phenomena of Satan and his effects in mainstream American pop culture, rather than his biblical significance and history, and also the processes Grand Central Art Center went through in conception of the idea and bringing the exhibition together. For the artwork section the background is white, a wise but safe choice, and most images are of a suitable size. The font chosen has a mysterious inscription feel and the details of the works are presented clearly (such as title, artists name, media used and size).

A clever, irreverent book, ‘100 Artists See Satan’ has wide appeal with its varied art and handling of the theme. For the most part ‘100’ is fun, shallow, disturbing and cheeky. For those interested in modern art and pop culture, this compilation is a definite must. However, the scattered meanings may put off some readers.

Favorites Include: Robert Williams ‘Perineum Tartare’, William Wegman ‘Ties With Devil’, John Valadez ‘Las Maldosas’, Shag ‘BBQ’, Mike Salisbury & Clive McClean ‘And Red All Over’, Erika Rothenberg ‘Who Would You Kill?’, Enjeong Doh ‘Head Of A Woman’, Ryan McNamara ‘Help Me’, Don Lagerberg ‘Charon Extreme’, Frank Kozik ‘Toodles’, F. Scott Hess ‘Wedding Sacrifice’, Mark Hersey ‘Spider-Eden’, Rick Griffin ‘Jesus Saves From Hell’, Scott Grieger ‘Digital Devil’, Alex Grey ‘Love Forestalling Death’, Gregg Gibbs ‘Self Portrait (Stripes)’, John Geary ‘Devil Sighting Golden Gate Bridge’, Paul Frank ‘Red Devil Julius’, Robert Crumb ‘Go Fuck Thyself’, Coop ‘Church of Satan Recruitment Poster’, Chaz Bojorquez ‘El Desire, El Power, El Love’, Sandow Birk ‘Dante’s Inferno’, Van Arno ‘The Soul Is Extracter And Judged By Weight’, Franco Angeloni ‘Substantial International Financial Aid Package’, Bale Creek Allen ‘Paddle For The River Styx’, John Alexander ‘The Trial’.

♥♥♥ – 3/5

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